Whatever's the case, such fact as I presumed the world to be
at twenty-five or six is no longer even remotely actual. I keep
thinking of that shot in one of Fellini's movies, the one of the
helicopter flying over the roofs of the city, with people
variously down there, sun bathing, carrying on, waving, and all
becoming smaller and smaller as the helicopter lifts up and away.
That's where it was, so to speak, down there, in some other
quickly fading world that even the endless horrors of the Second
World War and all the trashed decades since haven't managed to
put clearly in anyone's mind as what, after all, did happen.
I like, rather am caught by, that sense of history
deliquescing, becoming commentary on its own agencies of
recording, a schizophrenically dividing pattern of multiple --
realities, all contesting, all "right" from their own demanding
perspectives. A friend spoke of the hermeneutical phase of
history, that stage where it becomes the study of its own
meaning. And then the baroque, and then the post--. Pound
quoted Santyana as saying, "It doesn't matter what books they
read as long as they read the same books." The banal
commonnesses we would all quickly recognize and tacitly accept,
physically depleted place, diminished determinations of work,
increasing despairs of any imaginable "solution," whether
political or personal. Who can think of "progress" in a
terrarium, which, at best, seems what our lives "on earth" may
prove to be.
Poetry, like anything else, speaks to whoever will listen,
and respond in the desired manner. Hey, man, I'm talking to you.
It's a familiar pitch. Poetry presently is probably no more
"experimental" than it ever was, Wyatt shifting the beat, Chaucer
getting it on in the local, or Villon using a kind of patois that
was way under any imagination of street talk. It wasn't just
words, it was mind. Like first century Rome Plautus, or
Catullus really disliking certain people.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory?" Enough to stay open,
certainly, but it had little to do with qualified "great
moments". Somehow our elegantly secure cat Aphrodite having her
kittens just as the first human stepped out on the first moon
ever to be walked on is something I'll remember most specifically
of that event, like they say. Is it that the so-called
"personal" keeps drifting back into "self," wants the home of its
own habits, recognizes even in vastness its own familiar hat and
coat? I don't really know, and I is fading, intermittent
signal, batteries running down. "Oh build your ship of death,
for you will need it..." D.H. Lawrence got to me, he made sense,
he made clear that feeling, touching, holding, seeing, being with
other people in every sense, was the fact of life, what it was,
literally. You could think anything you wanted to or could.
Still you wouldn't, and couldn't, go far.
Anyhow I don't really want any more separation from
anything, even the disasters, cheap as it seems to say that, or
to be so glib about what I know so meagerly. I don't want to be
a poet who writes "about" "things" or will have a "poetics" to be
"affected"--which returns to the questions of that time, "What
did Hiroshima mean to you poetically?" "Did the Holocaust alter
your imagination of audience?" Everything, God in particular,
gets trivial if you try to make that proposed content singular in
the apparent world, the diverse plurality we flounder in without
ever having a clue as to what it means, other than the "meanings"
we give it: "Names we have even to clap on the wind..." (in Hart
Crane's words). Or dear Wittgenstein: "If you give it a meaning,
it has a meaning." No teacher will ever grade all those papers.
Nor will the roles be played as if they were choices, as if
people wanted to be doctors and lawyers and simply became them,
fulfilled those roles and played them to the hilt. If all this
is a play in Shakespeare's sense, and we thus "actors," our parts
will be simply assigned. You get this, you get that, or
probably more aptly put, this is what you get, that's what you
get, and that's that. No refunds. Do it or don't do it.
Nobody's watching anyhow.
So what's the point, baby? If you were alive all those
years, what would you say happened? Did you like it, or didn't
you? Did you want ever to trade it in? The answer is, i
doesn't come in a package, you are there all through, stoned or
not. You are not an exception. If there was a puppy playin
with a ball, you'd not be confused. Yet your own delight, just
the same, seems to need reasons. "Can you afford not to make the
magical study which happiness is?" So Olson translates Rimbaud,
his last poem I believe. Did he fade out into heaven? I don't
How best to say it. I.e., "I am a post-communist,
vegetarian, unemployed, overworked, illiterate and de-signed,
spiritualized, abortioned, computed, technified, e-mailed, voice-
mailed, MTV'd, virtual almost surrealed person," etc. Etc. I
thought we passed 2000 way back there. I must have set my watch
Are you ready for the rapture? Remember that? Always a
pitch but at least someone's talking to you. Smile...
Poetry will make you happy, put hair on your chest, shoes on
your feet, get you out there and swinging. "Recorders ages
hence...," bro, those "happy few" of 1935 Stendhal was then
talking to, all that crowd like everybody's waiting for you, to
get it on, get up and go.
...Thank you for your time; I'll look forward to hearing
from you. Please call or write with any questions or confirma-
tions of submission. And all you poets of that vast future out
there, don't you ever forget to enclose a self-addressed stamped
envelope. You hear?
I wasn't going to
do to you